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Best of John Robison

Gaming Guru

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Should I Play More Lines or More Coins Per Line?

29 April 2004

John,

What can you tell me about the slots at Charles Town Races in West Virginia?

I have never seen any information about them anywhere.

I go about once a month and never win anything. I have heard they have to payout by law at 80%. Any info would be much helpful.

Mike

Dear Mike,

According to the American Casino Guide (www.americancasinoguide.com), West Virginia's slots (they call them Video Lottery Terminals, but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, let's call it a duck) by law must pay back between 80% to 95% and the maximum bet is $2. The machines at Charles Town pay back about 91%, the same as at the other race tracks.

I can see prohibiting 100%+ payback video poker machines, but I think capping paybacks at 95% forces even the best machines to be bad bets and gouges the players. The best video poker they can offer is 6/5 Jacks! At least the low max bet means that there aren't any high-limit players paying low-payback machines.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I hit the Blazing 7s on the Millionaire machine the other night and before it could pay out the machine went completely black. The guy said that it blew a fuse. What are the odds of that? And then it only paid me 80 quarters. Have you ever heard of a machine doing that?

Thanks,
Donna

Dear Donna,

Yes, I have heard of a machine developing a problem during or at the conclusion of a spin. It happened, in fact, to the wife of John Brokopp, one of the columnists at this site.

I think you're implying that the machine blew a fuse instead of giving you the jackpot. I can assure you that that didn't happen. You got paid the correct amount.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

On some video slots, sometimes my knee hits the door and an audit slip prints. Can we tell anything about the payback percentage or hit frequency from it?

Thanks,
Jim

Gee, Jim, I don't know. I spend most of my time in Atlantic City, Tunica, and Las Vegas, and the slots there don't print audit slips when you kick their doors.

If you can send me the text that's on one of the slips, I'll see what we can find out from it.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Hi, John,

My question is about the newer multi-line games. One strategy is to play as many lines as are offered (some of the newest ones have 40 lines) giving you the best opportunity to get to a bonus round, but the other strategy is to play fewer lines but more coins per line since the bonus round payoffs are based on the amount per line not the total amount bet.

So, basically, am I better off playing a 20 line machine - one per line, or 5 lines - 4 per line? Do you know if there is an edge to either one of these strategies?

Thanks for you help!
Gail

Dear Gail,

Most multi-line slots are straight multipliers. The amount you win for multiple coins bet on a payline is a straight multiple of the one-coin payout. That means there is no increase in payback for playing more than one coin per line, thus there's no advantage.

Playing more lines, however, will increase your hit frequency. I would bet one coin per line.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


I read your article about the person that tipped the cleaning lady because they hit a jackpot and no one would come around. I say good for them for doing what they did.

In the beginning every time we hit a jackpot we would tip the person pretty generously no matter how slow or moody they were. We see people all the time that never tip at all. Then one day I asked myself, Why should I tip a person with a nasty atitude?

Granted we have had "very" pleasant slot attendants that come over say "Congrats" (with enthusiasm) and after we gave them a nice tip they would say I hope you hit another one...... just nice pleasantries. We have no problem tipping these people. Then there have been times that the person won't even recognize you, they just "finally" show up and pay you and "expect" a tip. I'm sorry if you don't like your job; go elsewhere to work.

We customers lose enough money gambling that when we finally hit a jackpot it would be nice to have a friendly face delivering you the money. If they're not, then my belief is don't give them a tip. It's just like at a restaurant--you tip according to the service you receive. If the cleaning lady was the only friendly helpful person in the casino, then if you want to tip her for a nice jackpot then go for it tip her rather than the unfriendly attendant! Nowhere does it state you "have" to tip the attendant.

Nancy

Dear Nancy,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about tipping. I was going to use the restaurant analogy in my reply, but you beat me to it!

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Dear John,

I just recently purchased a Cal Neva slot machine. It has no instructions on how you can change the odds or any other instructions for anything else.

It would be greatly appricated if you could send us any info that you may have on this type of machine.

Thank you,
Deborah

Dear Deborah,

Sorry. I don't have any information about this machine. If someone does, though, I'd be happy to forward it on to you.

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,
John


Send your slot and video poker questions to John Robison, Slot Expert, at slotexpert@comcast.net. Because of the volume of mail I receive, I regret that I can't send a reply to every question. Also be advised that it may take two or more months for your question to appear in my column.

John Robison

John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots
John Robison
John Robison is an expert on slot machines and how to play them. John is a slot and video poker columnist and has written for many of gaming’s leading publications. He holds a master's degree in computer science from the prestigious Stevens Institute of Technology.

You may hear John give his slot and video poker tips live on The Good Times Show, hosted by Rudi Schiffer and Mike Schiffer, which is broadcast from Memphis on KXIQ 1180AM Friday afternoon from from 2PM to 5PM Central Time. John is on the show from 4:30 to 5. You can listen to archives of the show on the web anytime.

Books by John Robison:

The Slot Expert's Guide to Playing Slots